Weevils (Curculionoidea) are the most widespread family of beetle, and include roughly 60,00 separate species. The genus Rhynchophorus includes particularly large species that are esteemed as culinary delights wherever they are found: South America and the Caribbean, Africa, and various parts of Asia. The so-called “Sago grub” (the larva of Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) is one of the best-known edible insects; some people have traveled all the way to Papua New Guinea in order to sample it.
Another remarkable aspect of this genus is that they tend to be despised as agricultural pests. In fact ferrugineus has become introduced into numerous countries as a serious invasive and threat vector, prompting control methods that tend toward pesticide use rather than gathering and cooking techniques.
Regarding the acquisition and development of Rhynchophorus as a desirable food source, I’ve been in touch with Mr. Manuel Miranda of www.amazoninsects.com regarding “suris,” the local name for R. palmarum larva. We have been in discussion regarding the best way to process, package, and export this food product. In the meantime he reports that he’s been keeping a few of them in his apartment, the better to observe their feeding habits and metamorphosis.
Here are the suris at the marketplace, sold live as food.
As mentioned, these beetle grubs are enjoyed throughout much of the world, including in the middle of Africa. The diner is Mr. Michael Brown, President of Innovative Resources Management.(My sincere thanks to Mr. Brown and to Dr. Dale Rachmeler of IRM for the image and information.) According to Dr. Rachmeler,
This photo shows Mr. Brown at the Restaurant ‘Sous le Mangier’ in Kinshasa, Congo, 2004 eating fried palm grubs which are served in most moderate restaurants in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The palm grubs are about 3 inches long, with fat white bodies and a small dark brown head when harvested from palm trees. They are sent alive to the market and in many cases, the waiter will show you a bowl of live grubs so you know that they are fresh when served. They are usually fried in palm oil or corn oil or peanut oil. They turn dark brown and are crispy. Michael really likes them, I do not. I have lived in six French speaking African countries for the past 25 years. In West Africa they eat fried termites and locusts frequently. I don’t like palm grubs but then it is simply an acquired taste like French fries